Dirty greens

Produce is the leading source of foodborne illness

February 8, 2013

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a food-safety report. The report, noted the Huffington Post, is the most comprehensive the CDC has ever done on foodborne illness, covering a decade of tracking outbreaks.

The big reveal of the report was that produce makes you sick more often than animal products. Leafy greens, in fact, are the most common source of foodborne disease, accounting for 1 in 5 cases. Meat, however, is still the deadliest source — not E. coli in beef, but campylobacter and salmonella in chicken and deli meat. And, as the Atlantic Wire reported, oft-maligned shellfish actually causes the fewest incidents of food poisoning.

Some commmentators, worried that the veggies-are-bad message would deter eaters from downing their greens, tried to clarify that washing fruit and vegetables — as well as washing your hands — will prevent transmission of most foodborne illness. Norovirus, for example — the most common cause of food poisoning in the U.S. is most commonly spread by dirty hands touching food, not the food itself.

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